Call for proposals of chat channels

Hi Everyone,

Discourse has rolled out a new feature to support realtime chat.

We now have the ability to turn it on for our forums. We’ve done limited testing with the admins and it seems to work as expected. So we’re looking to make it available to a larger audience. The chat is setup to provide channels associated with categories.

So what I’d like to put out is a call for people who would like to propose channels for any of our ROS Discourse categories and are able to get one or two volunteers who will agree to pay attention to the channel and help us moderate the proposed channel(s). Then we can try out using these channels.

For more background on discussions in this area for the community I recommended reviewing this thread from @ruffsl :

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There already is the ROS Discord chat and it might be confusing for people if there are two. Would it make sense to get in touch with the admin of the discord and coordinate? Personally, after having spent some time monitoring the Discord, I don’t think it’s the right tool for our purposes, mostly because the default on Discord is to be anonymous and casual whereas Discourse is more professional and most people use their real names. So personally I’d be happy if we could replace the Discord with Discourse and would be happy to monitor a web-tool category/chat-room as I’m doing on Discord right now.

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Quick point of order, do the Discourse chats have to line up with our Discourse topics, or can we create chats that are independent of topics? I could see having something like a “news” or “meme” chat channel being quite a bit of fun.

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Chat “Channels” are associated with Categories for access control in Discourse. But we are basically wide open so pretty much all Categories grant @everyone access. So it seems that the chat channels don’t necessarily need to be too strongly connected to the Categories.

One topic that I think is worth thinking about: should there be a “help”/“support” chat? My feeling is no, since that potentially splits effort between a non-searchable live-chat and the already-existing ROS Answers. I think I recall that being a concern with a ROS discord server, seems like it applies here.

Regarding the Discord server, I’ll list the channels that exist there if it’s helpful: the Discord-defaults of “general” and “random”, but also some self-promo channels (“careers” and “promo”) and some misc discussion channels (“news”, “idea”). The rest is targeted help discussion (“simulation”, “navigation”, “manipulation”, “visualization”, others).

I think it makes more sense for this to live in already existing locations which have the additional advantage of being indexed/searchable.

It’s not going to stop all requests for support via the chat, but if users can be gently nudged to existing support channels, it’s going to be better for the entire community.

We’ve setup the first channel to make the release management communications a little bit more transparent. If you’re interested or a maintainer you can see it here: Chat #Packaging and Release Management

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So is the chat archived and will it be accessible forever?

The default chat content has a persistence of 90 days. If there’s content that is important for long term storage please make sure to quote it and post to a topic or other persistent mechanism. From the designers:

Chat conversations can easily be continued in topics or stored for long term memory by selecting relevant messages to quote and summarize. When links are shared between topics and chat, inline previews of the content are shown in a onebox for context.

Also

Channels can be configured to retain messages for any period of time, including indefinitely. The default retention period is 90 days so your community has time to capture things they care about in topics better designed for asynchronous discussion without worrying about things disappearing overnight.

The chat is distinct in that it is focused on providing more immediate communications like you might have in the hallway or a meeting. Or these days many of us have in Discord or Slack and other out of band mechanisms that are more partitioned off.